REASONS NOT TO BE CHEERFUL, PART 3
Gallup Daily: Race Tied at 44%
According to Gallup Poll Daily tracking from July 29-31, John McCain and Barack Obama are now tied at 44% in the preferences of national registered voters....
Nine-point lead: gone.
Yeah, those bad McCain optics during the Obama overseas trip and the blistering media criticism of McCain's negative campaign are really killing the old maverick, aren't they?
I've been saying that McCain is actually benefiting from his decision to express Nixonian resentment of the elites and swells (defined as Obama and the media). I keep wondering why that works for Republicans as often as it does -- why they're able to link whining about being victims to a perception that they're the tough guys. And I realize that when you talk about a Nixon strategy, you have to go back to George Wallace -- Nixon poached a lot of his act from Wallace. Which means it get back to non-coastal, non-elite whites versus Northeast Corridor and West Coast cities (where, yes, non-white people live) plus college students, college professors, the media, secularists, people who aren't sexually conservative, urban muggers, big-city junkies, frou-frou entertainers ... am I leaving anything out?
This is always the subtext of GOP whining. It's about race, but it's about a lot more than race. It's the kind of class war we have in America instead of the class war we should have (i.e., actual non-rich people versus the rich). And McCain, the child of privilege and husband of an heiress, is fighting it right now, against a black son of a sometime welfare mother, and he's apparently winning.
I see that Steve Kornacki of The New York Observer agrees with what I said yesterday about the dubious political value of Obama's speeches to huge crowds:
Obama's Mass Addresses Are Great Theater, So-So Politics
...While Mr. Obama has stirred profound passion and devotion among his supporters, there isn't any evidence -- yet -- that the compelling sounds and images produced when he addresses his flock prompt more ambivalent voters to give in to their emotions and jump on the bandwagon.
The best example of this came in the run-up the New Hampshire primary earlier this year.
On the Thursday night before the primary, Mr. Obama handily defeated Mrs. Clinton in the lead-off Iowa caucuses..... In defeat that night, Mrs. Clinton listlessly addressed a small crowd in Iowa, surrounded on stage by a collection of anonymous politicians and her husband's former appointees. The pictures and words communicated to television viewers exactly what Iowa's results did: loser.
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, triumphantly addressed a sea of supporters, speaking in sweeping terms about his candidacy's historic potential. And the stagecraft was perfect: No political hacks in sight, just jubilant young supporters -- the future! -- cheering (at a safe distance) behind the candidate. This was the scene that millions of Americans witnessed on the small screen.
And it only got better for Mr. Obama the following night, when he addressed a traditional pre-primary dinner in New Hampshire. As he was called to the stage, his supporters rushed forward, as if a prophet were arriving, and had to be warned back – repeatedly – by the public address announcer. Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, was lustily booed....
And then Mrs. Clinton, apropos of just about nothing, won the primary. Mr. Obama and his supporters had created some of the most powerful and arresting television imaginable, but it didn't matter.
The same basic phenomenon has played out repeatedly since then....
Read the whole thing. It's going to happen at the convention again -- another huge crowd, in this case (as Kornacki notes) with comparisons to Dr. King (this will be on the 45th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech) -- and then, to judge from current patters, no bounce. I think it could be worse -- accusations of hubris because it will be said that he sees himself as a second King.
As a supporter, I really, really wish he wouldn't do this. And I'm really tired of hearing from some of you that I'm the problem if I say this. Facts are facts -- he simply doesn't get a bounce from these big moments, and he gives McCain the opportunity to be the resentful Everyman, the surrogate for every ordinary voter who's never caught a break in life. That's absolutely not how we want McCain to look.